Friday, June 4, 2010


Last day here in Florence.

Woke up early to do a little studying for our final, and headed into school an hour early to finish studying and hang out because usually our class goes to class very early, so we studied and chatted up until we took our exam at 11:00. The test didn't seem too bad but I know I messed up a few things with the CI and NE pronouns. Professor Benjamin came into class and was introduced to our Italian Professor Francesca. Francesca surprised us with speaking perfect english, we were awestruck because she had always played dumb in class and said she new very minimal english so it was a shock to see her conversing very well with Professor Benjamin.

After the exam a few of us hung around Eurcenter for a little while then we went our own ways. Before leaving, the remaining few made a plan to meet at Naima at 10:00, so that we could say our final goodbyes. I left eurocenter with that meeting point in mind then went to get my last gustapanino, a piadina with pesto, crudo, pomodoro, rucola, mozzarella and provola. I took my piadina on the run and headed to SMN to buy my train ticket to Frosinone for Saturday.

After buying my ticket successfully, I walked back to Giovanni Fabbroni to do a little packing and to see what Samantha's travel plans were. Luckily she was able to change the ticket she had bought and now was able to leave at 8:40, instead of 5:00, so we had a little time to hang out and relax. We packed up the room and all of our stuff for the most part, went to buy Claudia some flowers and then went to get some sun in the Giardino di Orticoltura, because Claudia nor Gabri were home yet. We napped at the garden for a little while, Acca came, chatted for a while then around 3 when we were over heating we decided to head back so we could spend a little more time with Claudia and Gabri.

When we got back to the house Claudia and Gabri were both in hiding, so Samantha finished packing up and I just hung out watching things on my computer. Around 5:00, Claudia woke from her nap and asked us if we wanted to bake Biscotti al Prato, and of course we said YES.

We all went into the kitchen and began our third cooking lesson of the week. 500 grams of flour, 450 grams of sugar, a generous pinch of salt, stuff that makes it rise, 4 eggs and 1 egg yolk. Then half a kilo of chocolate chunks and almonds, YUM. We kneaded the dough with a lot of struggle, trying to get it as Claudia had wished. It was a difficult task but we finally completed it. We rolled the dough into a few logs and put them in the oven, the dough taste great, and smelt even better after it had been baking for a little while.

While the biscotti were baking, Claudia was out in the garden and noticed that their biggest turtle had started to dig a hole to lay its eggs. I went outside to see the turtle at work, it was truly fascinating watching the turtle use its hind legs to push the dirt out and create a hole. As that was happening the Biscotti were ready and Claudia took me in to give me a lesson on how to cut them. That didn't go so well... I didn't have the same strength as her to really get a good cut in, so she cut and I laid the pieces out on the cooling rack to cool.

It was nearing 7 and I had to meet the Gjestebys at Acqua al Due, a restaurant near the Bargello, and Sam wanted help getting her stuff on the bus and off the bus so we finished packing, put her things in the hall way and said our goodbyes to Gabri and Claudia. It was really sad actually, and I wasn't even leaving yet. Claudia said that Sam always had a room here in Florence and it was so cute, quite an emotion send off. She took a bag of biscotti Claudia had given us each to take home with us, told her not to eat them all before she got home and then we lugged her bags up the stairs and across the street to wait for the bus.

Getting on to the bus was a kick with all of her stuff and made me nervous about how the heck I was going to be able to do the same thing in the morning all alone! UH OHH.

So we took bus number 4 for the last time together, I left her at the Stazione to find Vishnu who she would be traveling with then I headed off toward the Bargello, Acqua al Due and my final dinner and night in Florence, AH!

Dinner at Acqua al Due was VERY good, the Gjestebys were so nice and we had a great time enjoying the many Assaggio Piatti which the restaurant was famous for. You could pick a Sampler from any category you would like and they would bring multiple small portions of their best that was on the menu and it was beyond good. After dinner we went to Naima at ten, the Gjestebys bought my a Japanese Tea, Janet, Anna and I drinking our unnatural colored green drinks together, we chatted and then slowly the group started trickling in. The Gjestebys left soon after, I thanked them a ton and then the group joined at Naima for the last time. It was sad but fun, I was tired so I stayed out just til 12 so I could wish Alison a Happy 21st Birthday, and then for the last time I walked back home to Giovanni Fabbroni with Acca, and said our final goodbyes. Who woulda thought it would be so sad! Especially since Acca is graduating next week, the rest of us can hang out next year at Union, but he isn't gonna be there :( LAME! Good thing he lives in Guilderland, so close!

So that was it, that was my last night, sad, sentimental, relaxing and fun.

Now I'm here waiting to leave Giovanni Fabbroni, Claudia is making me a Cappuccino :D and I am typing a way in my empty room, sad :( And anxious and nervous about lugging my TWO bags on and off the bus by myself... Its gonna be a trip!

Muto at 3:00, can't wait!! CI VEDIAMO DOPO FIRENZE!!!!

Thursday, June 3, 2010



Can't believe I only have one day left in florence, it's just not fair! Flew by way too quickly!

Here are my top ten lists Benjamin made us do for class (things we miss about the US, things we like about italy) and that he read to everyone last night during dinner...

Top Ten Things I Miss
1. Family
2. Friends
3. Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes
4. Iced Coffee
5. Diving Boards, Diving (team)

Honestly can’t think of ten things I miss…

Bottom 5 things I don’t REALLY miss, but could miss at some point:

6. Ice
7. Friends Complete Season DVDs
8. My Volvo 240
9. ….
10. Things coming and leaving on time

Top 10 Firenze

1. Living in homestay with Claudia and Gabriele
2. Italian as a language
3. All food
4. Mercatos
5. Vino
6. Watching local Italians interact
7. Smell of Fornos
8. Looking at women’s high heels and wondering how they survive walking around the cobblestone streets.
9. Caravaggio
10. Churches

I won’t lie, there is nothing I don’t love about Italy, except the few rude people who I meet (who aren’t necessarily Italian all the time so its great!).


I woke up early today to do a little studying for our Italian final that we have at 11, but I forgot I didn't blog about yesterday, so I'm putting a hold on the studying and jumping into the details of yesterday.

So yesterday in Italian we had our conversation final which we all studied for pretty well. We each had a partner and had to talk about a topic for 5 to 10 minutes, and then we were done. Era molto facile. It was sad to leave Veronica, we really enjoyed her conversation class. After conversation we had our final review with Francesca for our grammar test (that I should be studying for right now), she encouraged us that we would do great and not to get too hung up on it or study too hard, so that reassured us all.

After class I went to Cafe Ricci for one last time with Alison and Hannah then headed back up to eurocenters to do a little studying. I headed back around 2:30, and mildly freaked out when we didn't have internet upon return because I still hadn't figured out how I was getting to Nonno's or anything involving meeting up with Toni etc. So, I took a nap instead of freaking out over it. When I woke up at 4, it still was not working, but the phone was ringing so that meant it didn't have to do specifically with ours, because we notice when the internet is down in the house, the phone line is completely dead as well, so we had a feeling everyone's Alice internet was not working properly. So to waste more time I went on a short run, and by the time I came back it was back on!

I took a shower and got ready to go out for our final dinner, studied a little more and skyped with my mom to figure out my departure plans for saturday. Decided on a departure time from SMN at 10:40, arriving in Frosinone at 1:55, Toni could go to the supermarket while waiting if I got there way after her. Plan settled.

Around 6:40 we headed out to the bus stop to go into town. Road the bus without a ticket, it was very nerve racking, but I made it to SMN without getting fined. It was weird because the bus had changed and it wasn't the normal style bus that usually is bus #4 so it was a weird ride into town. We ended up walking with Cassie and Alexa to Antico Noe Osteria, where we were 15 minutes early and they were still setting up. When we arrived Avery came up to us out of breath and said "Did you know they changed the reservation to 7:30?" It was hysterical, he had sprinted from picking up his girlfriend to the restaurant because he thought it started at 7:00, so he thought he was late, but in actuality he was quite early.

By 7:30 everyone was crowded outside in the archway except for Jackie and Cristi who were obviously late as usual. We sat down at our tables unaware of the mountains of food that were about to come. They served us a red and white wine, the best wines I have tasted over the duration of the trip. And they brought us iced cold water which they kept refilling, and then the food began pouring out.

Before the food came Benjamin started off the night by reading all of our top ten lists he had made us write for his class, it was interesting and fun to guess whose list was whose, and to see what was on it.

Now for the FOOD: First we started off with a delicious fresh Bruschetta, followed by numerous platters of meet, cheese, bread and foccacia. All delicious. For the main course we had a family style dish of fettucine with artichokes, DELICIOUS, and then a rigatoni with rabbit sauce. Also very good, but i preferred the carciofi. After the pasta dishes Roast beef was taken out, then finally an apple tart cake. The whole progression of food took about 3 hours, We were definitely in the restaurant from 7:30 to at least 10:30, and it was a great time! I would say a wonderful last dinner, although it would have been great if we could have all fit at the same table, but we were in close quarters and by the end, all the tables were mingling!

Great night, walked home, studied a little, computered, packed and the fell fast asleep before 12, and now I have to go do some more studying before walking to eurocenter for the last time :( CIAOOOOOOOOO!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

T-3, Non posso crederlo!

How are there only three days remaining here in Florence? Its just not fair how fast time flies.

Today I had planned to do big things. First I had set my alarm for 7:00am because I wanted to go on a run before I met with people to study, but my alarm didn't go off so I didn't end up running. For breakfast I ate the leftover Faro that was left on the counter, I figured it was kinda like oatmeal for breakfast, it was delicious.

Plan of the day was to study for a little at Cafe Ricci in Santo Spirito then go to the supermarket to buy a picnic lunch to bring to the Cascine where we would relax, eat, study and have a great Italian Republic day. It wasn't we couldn't have our picnic because it was an Italian festa and nothing was open, we were pleasantly surprised with 95% of things being open, but unfortunately the sky was not on our side and a large thunderstorm rained on our picnic.

I had met Acca outside Santo Spirito because we wanted to get food from the Mangiatoia near school to bring to the Cascine. We went anyways while it was getting quite chilly and about to storm. The Mangiatoia was a great late term find. Pasta dishes, meat, cotornos, and fried zucchini flowers :o) Pasta dishes cost at most 3 euro, best place ever. Today I got a contorno of spinaci and 3 fiori di zucca, erano molto buono. As we walked out of the Mangiatoia in search of a hunk of pecorino, it started to thunder and lightning, THRILLING! We stopped a few stores down the way past Palazzo Pitti toward Ponte Vecchio and found a hunk of pecorino that shocked us with the price, but it was delicious, probably worth the few extra euro.

So we went to bring our goodies to the outdoor covered terrace of the Oblate library where we had had loads of fun the night before, but obviously it was closed. So instead we went back to the Stanghellini senior household, ate our food there and studied for a little while. After I got bored of studying we went on a Medici break with Jackie. I got a 70 cent gelato pallina, because I wasn't very hungary and I had always been intrigued by the many things inside the fridges at Medici. I got a Coffee flavored gelato ball encased in a dark chocolate case with chocolate chips on it. It was delicious!

After we ate our Medici we all went our separate ways to relax and studying in the comfort of our homes on a wonderfully rainy day. I'm a loser and went to go see if the COOP was open just because I wanted to walk around and marvel at it, but unfortunately supermarkets not in centro were chiuso for the holiday, so I ended up just heading back home.

I did homework for a while then we gathered at the dinner table for our final dinner. Sadly it wasn't anything grand or special, but it certainly was delicious. We had a delicious tomato soup that she described how she made but I have a terrible memory so I don't think I'm capable of replicating it. She also made a typical florentine salad called something that starts with a P and I can't remember. But I think I am capable of replicating that salad! Then we closed with the liquored batch of the Tiramisu which was just as delicious!

After dinner we retreated to our rooms, where I watched some Glee and am currently studying, hoping the oral exam goes VA BENE DOMANI. Penso che non sia troppo difficile, ma no lo so! Ci vediamo domani raggaziiiii!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Today I woke up very content because the ZANZA STOP worked miracles last night. No bugs buzzing in my ear, only minimal itching, the Italian Farmacia once again has worked miracles. So I woke up got dressed and had a delicious breakfast consisting of yogurt with some cocoa crispies. Delicious as always, the yogurt here is some how so much tastier than in the states. After I ate breakfast I got my things ready to go and headed off to school... walking, because It is JUNE FIRST, so my bus pass expired, so no buses until Saturday for me when I have to lug my big huge heavy luggage to the SMN!

I arrived at school early because I obviously give myself enough time to not ever be late, and then I started getting anxious because after Italian we would have our Mauro presentations, and I am not very good at presenting, but after the presentation it meant I was done with Architecture, AND Photography, so 2/3 classes down, only Italian to go, not bad!

So, we had Italian class, having lots of fun retelling what we had done the previous day, all the while I was only mildly freaking out about the presentation. After class we decided to have one last go at Gusta Pizza, I had an ENORMOUS calzone filled with ricotta, prosciuto, and mushrooms, it was amazing and HUGE. We ate them up on the Eurocenter deck because it was beautiful out, and so we could looking over our presentations and make last minute changes.

As the bell chimed one, there was a fight over who would present first. I didn't want to get into the middle of it and cause a ruckus, so I just settled for whatever spot was handed to me. It would have been nice to go first and get it out of the way but it wasn't worth the effort they were making to get into the first spot. When Mauro entered the classroom, order was restored and we commenced presenting our projects. They were all very interesting, and I don't think mine turned out that badly which was nice. We ended up finishing the class at 4:20, longest class ever, but it didn't seem that bad. Mauro said his goodbyes to us and told us he enjoyed us as a group, we all shook his hand, then left Eurocenters sadly, knowing we probably wouldn't see Mauro and his awesomeness again.

I started to head home with Avery, Alex and Jackie, following Hannah and Alison to their favorite gelateria La Carraia, to accompany them while the indulged on their gelato. After they ate, our crew headed home, stopping at a supermarket to by some waters because we were extremely thirsty. We hung out in Piazza della Vittoria for a little while, then headed our own ways, I had a date to make some Tiramisu, and I wasn't about to miss it.

By 6:30 Claudia was back, she asked us what we would prefer for dinner, giving us about 5 different options (love that lady), and Sam and I picked left over eggplant (because I made it THAT good) and FARO! After we decided what we wanted to eat, she lead us in to the kitchen and began our second cooking lesson of the week. TIRAMISU!

4 eggs, 8 tablespoons of sugar, beat together until white and fluffly.
Add half a kg marscapone and mix.
Dip biscotti into espresso
layer bottom of bowl with biscotti, then the sugar and marscapone mix, add chocolate bits and repeat. On top layer add cocoa powder, refrigerate for a little then you have Tiramisu! A delicious one a matter of fact!

I don't really like tiramisu, and this one I loved!

We ate dinner, Faro and melanzane was delicious, and the tiramisu was an amazing addition, then we decided what we were going to do for the night. I decided to meet up with Acca at Medici at 9:30, Sam wanted to stay in. While at Medici, Jackie called me saying she wanted to go out. We planned to go to Be Bop where there was a Beatles cover band every tuesday night, so I convinced Acca to come out. We went back to his house to convince Avery to come out and then we met up with Jackie and walked in toward the Duomo.

We walked through Piazza SS Annunziata and there was a cool concert going on with a food stand so we sat there for a little until the band switched to some heavy metal not good music and we went on our way. We went to Be Bop while the Beatles were on a break so we decided to go walk around. Acca took us to the Library because there was a bar and sometimes music on their terrace on the third floor. Who would've thought I would spend my night having fun at a library? American libraries should definitely remodel to be like Italian ones because it was a lot of fun! Around 12 we got kicked out of the library because it was closing and we headed back home. We stopped into Be Bop, hot sweaty loud and crowded, and listened to a few of their songs. It was a lot of fun, just wish we could have gotten a table, after 4 or 5 songs we headed back home ready to go to bed and wake up at decent our to start studying for our Italian final.

Wednesday is a holiday so I am praying things are open so I can do a little gift shopping for people, FINGERS CROSSED!

Monday, May 31, 2010

T-5 Days, Photography Complete!

So my plan to try and go places I've never been and explore constantly during my last week here has not gone as well as I had anticipated. I forgot that I am not bionic woman, and am quite the opposite, so I get tired a lot and I realized on mondays and tuesdays when I have 6 hours of class, that pretty much exhausts me enough to deter my exploring. But that doesn't mean I didn't accomplish anything today, I accomplished a lot!

Woke up early to go to Mamma's bakery to study Italian with some classmates. There I'm ashamed to say I ate a muffin. . A raspberry chocolate chip muffin, it was totally worth it. While studying we met two women who were drinking their coffee as well. One was from California, and had dropped out of UC Davis 30 years ago, but recently got a degree, and her friend a mother of 2 boys had moved to Florence 12 years ago and still lives here. Inspirational to me! I didn't get much of her story, but knowing its possible to move here and make a life, and speak fluent Italian IS POSSIBLE! There is hope for me yet!

After Mamma's we went to class, had jokes and fun with Veronica and Francesca, reviewed a little bit then went to get a quick lunch so we could return to Eurocenters to finish our photo projects that were due today. Our mission for lunch was Gusta Pizza, but as we rounded the corner we noticed the doors were bordered up and then it came to us.. It was monday, lots of stuff was still closed! So the group split up, Jackie and I daring to try a little supermercato's panini that a few people said were really good. Boy they were right! I had a delicious panino, with delectably soft, yet crunchy bread, mortadella, pomodoro, pesto and mozzarella, and boy was the woman generous with the mozzarella, she put an entire ball on, and the whole sandwich was only 3.50. Made me a little sad I hadn't ventured into the store earlier, in fear of leaving Gusta Panino, but at least I made it in once! And I won't lie, I preferred it to Gusta Panino, Gusta just has more ingredients, but the market was 100% more fresh, and the woman was so cute and old who was working there, so she got my points! Won't be going to Gusta this week, if I want a panino it will be from the little old lady again!

So after we ate we went back up to Eurocenters, I began burning my project onto its DVD in its correctly labelled Benjamin format. Chatted with professor a little before class, then started photo class and viewed everyone's final project. Wasn't a bad class, I got to work on my Mauro presentation a little bit and then Professor took us to the corner Gelateria, Santa Trinita, where I tried a 2 euro combo of ANANAS e YOGURT! (pineapple=bomb)

Then I ventured across the street to the Farmacia where I asked the store keeper what he had for mosquitos. He responded they had many things, creams, sprays, things for before and after, and asked which one I'd like. I told him I would need them all, THAT is how bad my face looks, and how bad my hand itches and how bumpy every part of my body is at fault of LE ZANZARE ITALIANE! I left the store with a ZANZA STOP plug and an anti itch stick that can easily fit into my pocket or purse so that I can apply it at any time, I'm really excited about it.

After the successful trip to the Farmacia I headed on home catch the bus number four for one of the last times of my time here, because tomorrow is June, so my monthly bus pass is up and I don't want to spend money on individual tickets. Just will have to buy one for Saturday to get to the stazione with my tons and tons of luggage (not looking forward to that). When I got home Claudia was there to greet me and apologize for not feeding us properly last night, it was wonderful to see her :o). We chatted for a little then I ran into my room to plug in my ZANZA STOP, praying it would work, and thankfully it seems as though it has done the job thus far.

Claudia came in a little while later asking for Sam because we had our cooking lesson starting soon. I wasn't exactly sure where she was, so I was the sole learning chef for the day. Claudia took me into the kitchen and explained how we would be making the eggplant and the sauce. In the sugo, there would be chopped up carrots, half an onion, celery, and basil (she never gives specific quantities, so i'm screwed when I reattempt the recipes!) cooked a little bit and the tomato would be added and heated and stirred.

For the eggplant portion of the meal, it was mainly on me. She showed me how to wash and cut the eggplant into slices. I then had to flour the eggplant slices, and put them in a frying pan that had already heated oil and a few pieces of sage (which I picked from the garden). While I was frying the eggplant slices, taking them out when they were golden brown (d'oro), she was putting hunks of parmigiana in the blender and finishing up the tomato sauce. When most of the eggplant slices were done I had to lay them down in a pot, layer by layer, adding sauce then parmigiana atop each layer of eggplant. When it came to the end, she told me I put way too much cheese on top and a little much sauce, but it was okay it was Lia Style Eggplant Parm. We put it in the oven to bake for 20 minutes or so then we sat down to eat it with a little bit of pasta on the side. The excess of cheese was the perfect amount to me! Samantha, Gabri and herself all enjoyed the creations of me, I was proud, and hoped I could remake the delicious dinner at home without herself. Doubtful, but I will try someday!

Dinner was delicious, I was forced to retell how I had made everything to Samantha in Italian. We watched the usual Viva Las Vegas tv program for a little, and then we figured what we would be doing for the remainder of the trip, discussed when we were leaving and what we would miss. Sad dinner, but to come in the week is a Tiramisu lesson, sauce making to bring home, and making biscotti al prato. Somehow I will be doing a LOT of cooking tomorrow, wednesday and friday before I go out to dinner with a friend. I felt bad having to tell Claudia and Gabri we wouldn't be here thursday (because of our class final dinner) and friday (because I was invited out), but they understood. When Claudia left the table Sam and I started talking in english in front of Gabri, suddenly he told us to stick out our hands and he lightly hit each of them chastising us for speaking in english and said solo parlate in italiano, Ops, we forgot! They are so good about not letting us speak english at the dinner table, i love it! I'm gonna miss them!

Almost done with the day, doing a little studying, watching an episode of Glee then off to bed! Get ready for exciting T-4 TOMORROW!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

T-6 Days and 106 Mosquito Bites

Sunday AM. Woke up at 9ish, ate a yogurt I had bought at the COOP yesterday. Can we talk about COOPs and Italian supermercatos and how I have so much fun exploring them? Seriously, supermercatos are definitely in my Italian Top Ten. They just make me HAPPY!

So Sam and I ate breakfast and did homework for a few hours before we left to go meet up with a bunch of people at the diner, to eat and do work. Monday we have our final photo project due and and Tuesday we have our architecture power point presentation for Mauro, so we had a lot of work to get done. I met Vishnu at the diner to do our power point around 1:00, they denied us access to the internet because it was so busy, so we just ordered food then prepared to go do our work somewhere else. I ordered a chicken wrap with mozzarella inside, it was a nice change from hard core italian food, but I won't be eating there again, save the American food for when I'm in America.

After lunch, we headed to the library to do work. Unfortunately the sign outside the library said DOMENICA CHIUSO, and we believed it so we went on our way searching for a place with WIFI and enough space to do our work. We decided to go back to my house and do work since we have a good work desk, so we walked back through Piazza del Duomo to use some of our Assaggios from the Gelato Festival, I grabbed a small taste of Stracciatella then we went on our way to catch number four to get to my house.

Vish and I worked on our project for a few hours then I went to a park to do a little reading, then I returned home to do more work and wait for Claudia to come home for dinner.

Sam and I soon began discovering the infestation of mosquitos in our room, and began freaking out. The amount of bug bites I have on my body is absolutely ridiculous. We didn't do many new things today, but we did commence our mosquito massacre. Claudia didn't end up coming home for dinner, so we made ourselves frozen pizza, bundled up in sweatshirt and sweatpants so that the mosquitos couldn't get to us. We worked more on our projects then started to go to bed when we noticed the ceiling COVERED in mosquitos...

Let the massacre BEGIN

We went into the closet to find brooms, we spread out, climbed the tables and beds and began smacking flies left and right. I feel a little bit bad about leaving the wall splattered with mosquito guts, but if you saw my face and my arms, you would have no mercy for the mosquitos or the walls.

Finally we thought we had killed a decent amount of the mosquitos so I decided to go to bed. Around 2:00am Samantha and I found ourselves staring at eachother on the verge of tears because the buzzing and biting in our ears wouldn't stop. I put my ipod in my ears to ignore the buzzing and I curled into the fetal position and buried my body completely with coves. It was really hot, but I was eventually able to fall asleep.

Not a very exciting day besides the killing of the mosquitos, but I still enjoyed just being in Florence on a beautiful day!